tv [untitled] July 31, 2011 10:00pm-10:30pm PDT
history of the 2004 legislation and the previous speaker may or may not have been there, but the impetus for that was too big fights we had with rite aid and starbucks. we spent a tremendous amount of community energy and time fighting those one by one and realize we can do it. it is not a sustainable way to discuss what kinds of businesses that in our neighborhood. we need a system to create these mechanisms to review these things uniformly. that was what we started with. there are key findings actually in the code. we want to make sure the narrative of the conversation wasn't lost. first is a competitive advantage over independence, whether it's more rent or whatever else, there is often a competitive advantage.
it is not an even playing field. the second was the idea of exporting the proceeds of the benefits of economic activity as opposed to moving them through the local economy. there are studies about this and it's clearly demonstrated that smaller and local independence bonds money through the local economy much more than national or international chains who source from greater distances. third was the issue of community character and the compatibility with existing character and compatibility in the neighborhoods. we are not phoenix. the most significant need is for folks to know these things are happening and at a forum to be able to talk to decision makers about whether these things that. that was the need. it's not about whether it's a financial institution, coffeehouse or clothing store. we created a definition of formula retail but did not go in and change these categories.
we had to lump them together, which was clumsy at best, which is why you're getting this technocratic debate over whether the financial institution is an aura out. we would have been writing the entire code so it would have had to take that subcategory how. the issue here is really about what level of scrutiny and community voice and commissioner involvement should there be when formula retailers moved into san francisco neighborhoods. [tone] thank you. >> i am active with the transportation planning committee and i work with the hayes valley merchants and the business community meetings. obviously with everything that
has been said today, i don't have terribly much to add in terms of voicing strong support for including banks as chain stores as the legislation as currently written. my opinion is planning has misinterpreted something and we look forward to you addressing that. we have worked very hard to have community involvement. i'm involved a lot of different community groups. at the most recent meeting of eight different community groups, the rather egregious entry of chase coming in was very passionately spoken to. since i cannot add terribly much to what has been said, i
will leave it at that. we strongly support your taking a very active and clear position on this call identifying banks as the chain stores. >> thank you. is there additional public comment? >> good afternoon, commissioners. i'm a resident of district 5. i am having a strong sense of deja. i'm flashing back to about 13 years ago. the issue was in the south of market. this is in the beginning of the dot com them which changed the landscape issue then. the issue was that the dot com offices were moving into spaces south of market that were not zoned for office.
suddenly there was the interpretation that those were not offices, they are actually business services. business services allowed those offices to move to route south of market, displacing local businesses, displacing nonprofits across the entirety of that landscape. we are now 13 years later and we're talking about for miller retail and we're talking about particularly -- formula retail and chase bank. why does this matter? it is not about project by project. in the upper fillmore district, the director of real-estate for chase locally was quoted as saying -- we had zero branches in 2008 in san francisco and now have 23. we hope the next three to four years to have over 50. this is your opportunity to weigh in and bought weight rather than requiring clarifying legislation, we don't need
clarifying legislation. there is not clarifying legislation needed in south of market in 1997 regarding business services and office. it was what it was. the offices were offices, they called them something else, and look at what happened. we are now in 2011 and it's a formula retail. chase is a multinational corporation with an amazing amount of resources. it's about anyone that comes in that fits the definition. clearly, chase bank does, regardless of whether or not neighborhoods have specifically line-item van and a red control districts, the point being this commission needs to take a stand now. they are halfway to their goal. i urge the commission respectfully to take a stand of this issue to actually do a full analysis rather than simply saying since we at the planning department have always decided that it is not a formula retail that we will continue saying that without any analysis. that's what we heard the board
of appeals and it will continue to year without any understanding of the intent. in the crafting of that, there was no exemption for financial- services. there wasn't then, there is not now. i would respectfully urge the commission to do thorough analysis had come up with their chase banks propose for san francisco in the future. >> thank you. >> i am partly to blame for your lengthy agenda so far today. i am with chase bank. i came here for two reasons. one, i e-mail each of you yesterday some information from chase on the agenda item you have been taking testimony and considering. i just want to deliver hard copies for you as well and for staff. the second reason is that wanted to listen and be able to correct
any misstatements that i have been made at the hearing so far. a couple of them jumped out and i know i have two minutes and 20 seconds, so i will try to be brief. one is that the board of permit appeals did not do their job. and was not thorough. in fact, we went through three fairly lengthy hearings with the board until the wee hours of the night and exhausted the issue of whether financial institutions were considered formula retail under this city's past and present interpretation. they found they were not. that was after three very lengthy hearings and they did a very thorough job there. i have heard many people speak to the fact the planning department is wrong and has been getting it wrong for eight years. i find that hard to believe. i have had minimal action with
mr. sanchez, but he has been direct and very thorough. he came out personally had pressured the space when there was a question whether is taking more square-foot that was put on the planned. we were correct and we were not trying to play some games. i came before you a couple of months ago unstated that's not the way we're going to business. we met with the neighbors, we are straightforward. i don't know why the neighbors took so long to appeal the matter, but we're going to hit it had on. the other thing that jumps out is i understand formula retail. i grew up in the sunset. my family has been here. formula retail was put in place to protect small business entities, therite aids put out of the mom-and-pop pharmacies, but there are no mom-and-pop
banks. one of the speakers mentioned that there's a bank of america and the neighborhood, so why do need something else? in america, we need choice and selection. we're trying to provide options to the residence. with that, i was the person who said we had zero and we're going to 50. that is because we acquired washington mutual and immediately went to 23. the banks were already here and we put a different name on them. we have added a few since then. [tone] >> commissioners, joe donohue. first of all, i'm no fan of -- i am no friend of the bank. i take the view of jonathan swift to stated every year we should take off five bankers out and hang them. [laughter] and in fact, i have considered some of the banks, especially
the local ones here like wells fargo, financial rapist's because the residential builder members have suffered irreparably from their actions. but the reality is we have to look at reality. the reality is banks are not mom-and-pop stores. we cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater. what we have to do is look at how do we bring some sanity to the process. right now, we have a planning commission and procedure process that is congealed. every time you go to take a permit, we have a new law of something new that is costly and time-consuming. in a time when we have government employes under pressure and layoffs. what we have to look at is is for killer retail going -- is a formal retail going to accomplish what is needed on a
formula retail. that reform is not going to come again by adding a layer on layer on top of what is already there. the fact is they are not mom- and-pop stores and that is what formula retail was initially intended to rectify. it did a good job on that. probably they have gone too much overboard because every mom-and-pop store is protected, even the ones that can hardly exist. new businesses are not able to come in who are legitimate mom- and-pop stores. what is doing is creating a space for immigrant groups. they are having difficulty coming into neighborhoods because of the mom-and-pop stores. we need to come back end and every analyze that. i would also say this process is very congeal -- has not been congenial because what has happened in this debate is those
who oppose the bank coming in -- i don't even know their name because they came on the attack. there were actually shocking statement analyze being put out and we will respond to that in writing. i'm glad we have this dialogue open up because i'm back in action. i have been writing about the banking industry for the last two years. i hope all those who oppose banks will join us what i call for the boycott. that lady has to be the smoking bad week. thank you. [laughter] president olague: any additional public comment? public comment is closed. vice-president miguel: i guess i
proceeded some of today's conversation several weeks ago when we were discussing a bank situation and it was my opinion that i voice at that time that banks were formula retail because of the retail sales and services situation. i have talked to supervisor winner and a number of other people on this. i have not changed my mind. i would like to refer to the city attorney. not being an attorney myself but having studied business law and been around for a bit, my understanding is one law or code is written, if there are specific items he caught types of businesses listed that are either prohibited or permitted, anything that is not so
designated isn't covered as a general rule. if you start listening to a bunch, those are the ones concerned with that code. anything else is normally not considered. could the city attorney comment on that? >> i'm the deputy city attorney. just backing up a step -- the interpretation of city codes has been referenced during some of the public comment and abets a job for the zoning administrator under the planning code. the zoning administrator is the city entity with the authority to interpret the planning code. i don't know if there has been an official interpretation. i know it has just been practiced, but i think the zoning administrator is the appropriate identity. two-year more specific suggestion, that is a general
proposition under legal interpretation and that would be a matter for the courts to decide if it ended up in a legal challenge. that is the general proposition. he stated it correctly. >> my next question was to the zoning administrator. the admittedly catch all specificity their is sales and services retail. if i read the advertisements of financial institutions correctly and listen to them on tv and look at the billboards, they sell and they serve as retail customers. -- they sell and they service retail customers. what is the logic for that exemption? not to put you on the spot.
>> this question has come up before and it is an excellent question. this goes back to 2004 which established the formula retail user requirements. it established the definition -- those as defined in the planning code, that used to find in the planning code and it is not listed there. there is that chart of controls and there is the generic header of services. beneath it, there are 34 different use categories now. since 2004, we have not applied it to those categories. we of only applied to the 11 or so listed in the definition of formal retail use.
these arguments were raised at the board of appeals hearing. that is a specific contention which the board ruled on and found financial service was not a formal retail use as defined in the planning code. i understand that argument and the code is not as clear as it could be which is why in my conversations with the public, it has been very clear in saying that this needs to be fixed by a legislative change that makes clear what the intent is. we never applied to all 34 of those uses, so that would be appropriate move going forward, either for the board of supervisors or the planning commission to introduce legislation and we could work with the board of supervisors or commission to develop appropriate legislation that would address your concerns and potentially look at interim policies that might help as
well. one other note is that a formal retail is defined twice in the planning code. -- formula retail is only a -- is defined twice in the planning code. prop. we have 2007, we have proposition g. it does not apply elsewhere in the city, only a neighbor and commercial districts. in a mixed used districts, there is a separate definition for formula retail usage. this added controls the said formula retail use needs and never had notice and they adopted a lot of neighborhood commercial style controls. a reading of that is probably
clearer language, but it's clear financial services not subject today formula retail law under section eight. that's one thing we want to do moving forward is try to reconcile all the controls. if something is for miller retail use in a bread commercial district, it should be a formula retail are used in the south of market and were to try to have some consistency there. section 312 notifications which precede all this, one of the first real controls to try to preserve and protect the neighborhood commercial districts, that was a similar 30 day notice, within 150 feet of the project. that applied initially to all types in the neighborhood commercial districts. it was thought that was too much process because you have small
businesses having to pay down a lease for a couple of months while they went through the neighborhood notification. that was revised and date listed uses shrunk. financial services are not subject either. it's clearly not subject to section 312 and i know we have arguments about whether it subject to a formula retail. but legislative change would be the best way to go about it. commissioner miguel: not having discussed it before in detail, that is pretty much the gist of my conversation with supervisor winner. it would need a legislative fix in order to clarify. the other thing i have to say as to those who are either for or against formula retail and a conditional use situation, is
that a simple look at the statistics, 60% of the cases, 22 permits have been approved under formula retail whereas 24% have either been withdrawn or disapproved. i think that shows a very even type of consideration by this commission. in only one case have we've been overturned by the board of appeals. the conditional use process worked years ago when i was on that side of the podium as a community activist. i was not so sure, but i did know the details -- i did not know the details to the extent i do now. it works and it can continue to work.
what i feel we need now is a clarification of the code and perhaps a realignment of many of the sections. this is something that happens in city codes and here and everywhere else. we keep adding on and we change it a little bit and three years later we change a little bit and we never coordinate the entire thing. every once in awhile, although it takes a lot of work for the department, we end up coordinating the code so that they apply evenly, logically and intelligently. i believe that is what is necessary in this case. i would be interested to find out the situation of american apparel and cvs on 8 street. just general information and wholefoods was also mentioned, as a matter of enforcement of
conditions and nothing to do with conditional use as far as i am concerned. the other thing i will say is that as much as four miller retail is normally touted to be -- formula retail is touted to be -- allows for a mix of uses within an area. that is as important as the protection of small mom-and-pop businesses. they're both very important in my mind at any rate. i would not like to see with a three block area six banks. i think that is ridiculous. but i would not like to see six large drug stores either. both considerations and perhaps more are in my opinion necessary.
commissioner moore: thank you. you hit the nail on the head. the department should revisit the code and find an interpretation which includes banks and some form of applicable discussion. however, i want to thank aaron star for a precise and mumbai and -- unbiased, level headed assessment of the situation. second, i very much appreciate that supervisor weeder is weighing in early on. -- supervisor weeder is weighing in early on. we have been very much press to get help on this issue and i'm glad there is an open channel of communication to get this further. the planning commission is in the process of trying to form a subcommittee. there are a number of people coming from small businesses or others who are interested to discuss this issue together with the public and the board further
so we can indeed wrap some new meaning along all of this in 72 time. the third point i would like to make -- all of this in due time. the third point i would like to make is that your pushed back at lot of fuel to the fire and a lot of credibility because we do need your help leigh order to have a sounding change. this is a comment on the architect forms to make choices about food, the neighborhood makes choices about banking. san francisco has a very clearly delineated financial district in which all larger banks have a very well appointed setting for doing their major business. the way we all bank -- and i'm not going to ask for hands, but most of us do it on phones and
many of us do it at home of a computer and what we have a bank, we have a public transportation network that gets us right downtown to our financial institutions who are in historic buildings or in well-designed modern buildings. we have a full array of banks with an equal footing downtown. each of those banks and there are many of them caught will all try to have a branch bank to where i live, i don't think this would work. it is for that very reason we need some sorting out of what is necessary and desirable to help us in our neighborhoods to have a thriving neighborhood life and what is not necessary and redundant. i have come to think that by now, given the proliferation of branch banks that it is redundant. i just have to believe it. there are branch banks everywhere.
i am through with everything now want to say. thank you. commissioner antonini: i can definitely see a distinction as far as the financial institution is concerned for a lot of reasons. as most of you know, banks have to make the bank every three days. that means they have to clear imbalance. it doesn't matter they are open on saturdays. they have to make the bank -- that is why banks are always open the day after thanksgiving. other days that make normal people take off because of problems in 1929, that was one of the financial laws instituted. there are a lot of laws banks come under and maybe even more should be imposed in the future to make sure things are handled the right way. i think it's a more essential service and, as was pointed out very well by many speakers, there are very few small banks
that do not come out of the definition of formula retail. branch banking is essential for most banks to survive because although there is a lot of talk about people doing things of line, it is very important for many people to have the availability of a branch that is close to them and it avoids people having to drive long distances or spend more of their time to do important functions. branch banking had its origin here in san francisco as most of you know. the other thing that is ironic is many of the neighborhoods that were underserved by banking in the past, where banks hold about, one of the was a bank of america, that's an example of many neighborhoods where there was an outcry, a reasonable tc